Man at His Best

Opinion: I Was A Gawker Target, And I'm Terrified Of The Way Gawker Just Died

Every writer in the United States of America, no matter who they work for, should be terrified by what just happened.

BY STEPHEN MARCHE | Aug 19, 2016 | Money & Career

Gawker.com announced yesterday that it will effectively shut down next week.

The official announcement was short and to the point and only somewhat snarky, at least for Gawker:

No doubt tomorrow will be an opportunity for the staff's particular brand of invective to release itself in a true Gotterdammerung. I'm excited to see what they do now that they are writing without any real consequences. That was always their strength, their fearlessness. The fact that Nick Denton didn't give a shit about who he offended was what made the site so exciting. If you didn't have mixed emotions about Gawker, you weren't really reading the site properly, I think, but the love and the hate Gawker generated was ferocious. I myself was very much Gawker's victim for years, and also a begrudging admirer. But in the end, I was just as selfish as any other reader, and as a reader, Gawker served me well. I was always excited to see what they were willing to dare to do.

Every writer in the United States of America, no matter who they work for, should be terrified by what just happened. Peter Thiel showed the world that you can destroy a media outlet with almost no personal risk. Publishers and editors are human beings. What do you think happens the next time somebody comes knocking with a scandalous video? Suddenly the question becomes: "Which tech barons does this guy know?" A price has been set for an individual's ability to avoid press scrutiny, and frankly, it's not that expensive. What the people with money do when they don't want you to know what they're doing just got a lot harder to figure out. There is a social cost to Gawker's loss which we will all have to pay.

Every writer in the United States of America, no matter who they work for, should be terrified by what just happened.
 

After the fear and the loathing, though, comes the realisation that Gawker had to die this way. Gawker died partly as a result of the vain and anti-democratic impulses of a social media tycoon who last month stood on the stage of the of Republican National Convention to use his status as a gay man to throw support to a reality television fascist. Peter Thiel proves that the new power network will not tolerate its own examination. Gawker has died articulating the future Thiel wants: technologically driven capitalism subject to no scrutiny whatsoever.

America will most likely survive its various Donald Trumps.

Can it survive its Peter Thiels?

Gawker is a New York story. New York stories have three parts: The rise, the fall, and the myth that follows in the wake. I have already heard the phrase "punk journalists" used to describe them. They certainly had the indiscriminate rage and the "fuck it" sensibility to deserve the title. In the end, no matter how crazy the myth gets, we should remember that Gawker died fighting the power of the new media to monopolise all speech. Their rage was at least, in the end, aimed at the right target.

From: Esquire US.